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Sign's Phony Erectors Relinquish Credit


"Yes, it's true," says WRVA talk-show host Allen Price. "Those guys did it."

Price, who hosts the afternoon radio show on 1140-AM, had claimed that he and his staff deserved credit for erecting the giant, white, wooden letters that spell out "Richmond" on a crest of Church Hill overlooking the city.

The Hollywoodlike sign mysteriously appeared in late November, creating a buzz around town and making the rounds in and on local news media.

Last week, Price confessed to Style. He had lied.

We already knew. Yamashita, 31, and his friends Landers Salzberg, 24, and Jonathan Martin, 26, had submitted evidence: a $187.22 receipt from Lowe's, dated Nov. 15, for lumber and hardware, photos of themselves with the letters in their apartment, and a video of the group erecting the sign at night.

It seemed a stretch that WWBT TV-12 anchor Gene Cox had given Price the idea for the sign while the two were having beers at Awful Arthur's — and had even been the one to film Price's crew putting up the sign. That's the story Price told on-air. "Come on," Price says, "Gene's old enough to be my grandfather."

Price says he was trying to draw out the real sign-erectors, because he admired them. He also used the opportunity to tell city officials to leave it up. "Here we've got potholes and buildings falling around us," he grumbles, "and they're going to take down the Richmond sign."

The real sign-erectors are happy the story is straight, Martin says. But there's more on their minds: A bigger sign.

"We want to make it twice as big now," Martin says. "We definitely want to rebuild this thing and go through the whole process that maybe we should have gone through in the first place."

As it now stands, the sign cannot stay up because it lacks permits and is on city property. So Martin says he is exploring how to get legit with the city's director of parks, recreation and community facilities, Dinesh Tiwari.

While Tiwari is open to the idea of a larger, permanent sign, he says, the approval process would include several departments in the city. "And the process needs to have public participation," he says. The current sign can't stay, he adds.

Undeterred, the sign-erectors hope to garner support from local businesses, get 15-foot-high letters professionally built and erect a permanent sign — complete with lighting.

Price hopes to have the guys as guests on his show soon.

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